Hackers target governments worldwide

by James Middleton, © 1995-2002 VNU Business Publications Ltd. All rights reserved

Tuesday, 8th January 2002 - Politically motivated hacking attempts have more than tripled in the UK over the last year, according to figures released today by analysts at the mi2g Intelligence Unit.

In the UK alone, attacks on government domains have risen by 378 per cent, from nine attacks in 2000 to 43 last year.

Attacks on the .co.uk commercial domain for the same period increased by 181 per cent, with 137 attacks rising to 385, and .org.uk hacks rose from five to 25.

According to the analysts, anti-capitalist protests, criminal activities and anti-NATO sentiments were the principal motivations behind the attacks.

Defacements of the non-geography specific .com domain accounted for nearly 30 per cent (8,736) of all web defacements in 2001, which totalled 30,388, according to the figures released by mi2g.

US government domains at the .gov address experienced a 37 per cent increase in website defacements, which rose to 248 last year from 181 in 2000. The US military domain, .mil, experienced a 128 per cent increase.

There were a number of global hacking hot spots throughout 2001 during the numerous incidents of political upheaval.

The China/Taiwan stand-offs and the US/China spy plane incident saw the .cn and .tw domains heavily targeted. Defacements on these two domains alone accounted for just under nine per cent (2,653) of total defacements for 2001.

The Israeli .il domain also became a target, with defacements rising by 220 per cent to 413 attacks in 2001. Defacements of Indian domains on .in rose by 205 per cent to 250 attacks, and there was a 300 per cent rise for the Pakistani .pk domain to 72 attacks.

"Global website defacement is indicative of the general conflicts prevalent in the physical world," said D K Matai, chairman and chief executive of mi2g."2002 may be a year in which politically motivated attacks, both physical and electronic, could complement strikes from disgruntled employees and organised crime."

mi2g said that the other main reasons cited for overt hacking attacks aside from political motivation, were intellectual challenge, disgruntled personnel and criminal activity.

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